MCI_Reefer_017DENMARK: For the first time, South America has its own reefer production facility after Maersk Container Industry (MCI) began production at its new facility in Chile.

The MCI facility in San Antonio will produce refrigerated containers and Star Cool refrigeration machines.

An independent business unit of shipping and energy conglomerate the Maersk Group, MCI has just delivered the first trial production of ISO standard 40ft reefer containers to sister companies Maersk Line and CMA CGM.

“In this sweet spot of fruit exporters, we have placed the factory right where the demand is,” said Stig Hoffmeyer, MCI’s CEO. “For the first time ever in South America, reefer containers can go straight from factory to farm. Offering the Star Cool Integrated reefers locally to shipping lines, farmers, fruit distributors and leasing companies, will have a financial benefit counted in thousands of dollars per reefer, and millions for the industry in total,” he added.

Every year, more than 100,000 reefer containers are needed in Chile to cater for the large export. Including Colombia, Ecuador and Peru, it amounts to approximately 300,000 reefer containers, predicts Seabury, the international shipping and transportation analyst. For many years, China has been the only country with reefer container production.

“MCI is a strategic supplier for Maersk Line. The production of the Star Cool reefer containers out of Chile means that we can immediately employ them instead of an empty relocation trip. It will help us create new business opportunities in the West Coast of South America,” said Søren Toft, chief operations officer of Maersk Line.

MCI says that close access to the Star Cool Integrated reefer technology opens up a broader market for local farmers, and can become a catalyst for South American fresh produce exports.

The new factory employs around 1,000 people and has been designed to manufacture up to 40,000 reefer containers and Star Cool refrigeration machines a year.

“Our new MCI factory is a strategic $200m greenfield investment. In the coming years, we will gradually ramp up production to 25,000 reefer containers per year giving full priority to safety and quality. The factory is designed for a potential future sale of 40,000 reefers by 2020, all under one roof,” said Søren Toft.